Columbus- August marks the move-in month for college students across Ohio. Ohio State University, Ohio University, Otterbein, Miami University, Ohio Wesleyan University, Capitol University, University of Dayton, Columbus College of Art and Design, and many more are in the throws of student migration back to campus.
Some families do it themselves, others hire movers. One is a headache, the other can cause heartache. BBB President Judy Dollison says complaints are on the rise. “Nearly 1,000 complaints were filed with BBB against moving companies in 2021. As moving activity increases, so do the chances of becoming a moving scam victim.”
More than $730,000 was reported lost to moving scams last year, representing a 216% increase in financial losses compared to 2020.
Several common scams show up every year:
Movers never show up after providing a quote and taking a deposit.
The moving company provides a quote based on expected weight and, after loading the truck, they inform the consumer that the load is over the expected weight. The company insists upon an additional fee to compensate for the additional weight. This extra fee is often much more expensive, sometimes more than double what was originally estimated.
The unanticipated moving scam can do the most damage because everything appears to be going well. Consumers get an estimate, the company arrives on time, but the truck goes missing along the way. When the truck never shows up at the destination, the belongings are long gone. Or, the company holds the possessions hostage demanding additional monies to actually get them delivered.
Warning signs of moving scams:
When reviewing a company’s website, if there is no address or information about a mover’s registration or insurance, it is a sign that it may not possess the proper policies to protect a consumer’s belongings.
Movers using a rented truck or offering an estimate without conducting an on-site inspection may not be a legitimate business.
If a mover asks for a large down payment or full payment in advance… unusual requests may be an indication of a fraudulent business.
In general, movers are not liable for lost or damaged contents in customer-packed boxes unless there is provable negligence on the part of the mover.
What you can do:
Ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. If the moving company either can’t or won’t answer your questions, look for another company.
Get everything in writing. When moving between states, check licensing with the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure the company has a federal identification number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as required of all interstate moving companies.
This number can be verified at ProtectYourMove.org.
Carefully read contract terms and conditions, including the limits of liability and any disclaimers.
The pickup and expected delivery date should be easily identified.
Have an inventory sheet of your belongings.
BBB recommends consumers who are moving label the boxes their belongings are packed in and what is in each box.
Taking photos of the contents prior to packing is a great way to prove if damages were incurred during the moving process.
If possessions are being held hostage for additional payment that was not agreed upon when the contract was signed, contact BBB or local law enforcement for help.
For more moving tips, check out BBB.org/moving.
What to do if you are the victim of a moving scam:
File a report with local police.
Contact MoveRescue at moverescue.com or (800) 832-1773.
Go to BBB.org to file a complaint or report a scam on Scam Tracker.
File an online complaint with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or call 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238).